The knowledge sharing paradox is that while sharing our knowledge is good for the organization, each individual has to see a personal benefit as well. The more the enterprise directs knowledge-sharing, the less likely it will happen. Conversely, the less structured the process, the more difficult it is for the organization to benefit. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, or so it seems. Helen Blunden neatly sums up what can happen to those who freely share their knowledge.
Knowledge flows when individuals actively engage in teams, communities, and networks by working and learning out loud. Both cooperative and collaborative behaviours, depending on the situation, are required. However, most organizations only focus on collaboration and fixed goals. Management often views cooperation as an aimless waste of time, which it can be. But collaboration and too much focus on teamwork can be detrimental to the organization as well.
Communities of practice can connect the knowledge flows between those messy social networks and focused work. This is where PKM (personal knowledge management) and PLN (personal learning networks) appear to differ. One aim of PKM is to connect learning and work. Steve Wheeler sees communities of practice as separate from the PLN, which he describes as mostly in the informal and opportunity-driven social network space.